Peter Thiel is one of the most controversial investors in Silicon Valley. The circumstances of his sudden exit from Bitcoin are unlikely to change that. Founders Fund, the venture capital firm co-founded by the German-born billionaire, earned around $1.8 billion in recent years by exiting the crypto market promptly, according to the Financial Times. The San Francisco-based fund pulled out of the market before the crash. Founders Fund had been invested in cryptocurrencies for almost eight years, making its first investments in Bitcoin in 2014.
Thiel, one of the best-known supporters of Donald Trump (76) in Silicon Valley, still gave the impression at the time of the fund’s exit that cryptocurrencies were the future. Thus, he expressed optimism for the future of Bitcoin as late as April 2022. At a cryptocurrency conference in Miami, he said, “we are at the end of the fiat money regime.” Fiat money refers to commercially available currencies such as the U.S. dollar, British pound or euro. Thiel claimed that the then already wildly fluctuating price of bitcoin – which was trading at about $44,000 at the time – could still multiply. By the end of March, Thiel’s fund traders had already unwound large portions of the fund, according to the report.
From its peak, bitcoin had lost about three-quarters of its value by December 2022. The entire crypto market melted down by more than two trillion dollars. Most recently, the cryptocurrency was trading at just over $19,000 on Wednesday.
Thiel co-founded PayPal in 1998 and became one of Silicon Valley’s most successful investors, including the first venture capitalist to back Facebook. Founders Fund manages more than $11 billion and has invested in Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Uber-like ride-hailing app Lyft, among others.
The fund is also talking about an equity investment in OpenAI, the developer behind the chatbot ChatGPT, whose valuation was last estimated at $29 billion.